Thursday, 14 August 2014


Guardian headline: "This is a war and we are soldiers on the front line"

BBC headline: "Tensions rise in Missouri"

(Edit: Since this morning the BBC headline has changed to "Anger at crackdown on protests".)

There is certainly such a thing as local bias - a riot in your back yard will naturally get more coverage than the same thing on the other side of the world - and, yes, on occasion, local media will blow a local story out of all proportion because making news is what they do.

I also know that following people in a certain area on Twitter will distort your channels of communication such that distance becomes less meaningful, you become more directly aware in things that aren't necessarily as significant to you, or in a global sense, as they might be. I mean far be it from me to imagine that what happens in the USA is inherently more important than, say, the cease fire in Gaza or Russian convoys advancing on the Ukraine. If we judged global significance by trends on Twitter, "That's So Raven" would currently be headlining.

I am not kidding.
Even taking all this into account, I'm slightly startled that this particular piece isn't getting more UK coverage.

The BBC2 and 6Music radio news segments are about two and a half minutes long, so they have to pick the three or four news stories that are of greatest interest to their listeners. The top stories this morning were "Annual event is once again proceeding as planned", "Something might or might not cause cancer" (which I've always thought of as newsreader code for "Slow news day"), and "Words continue to be added to dictionary". Not "American police are taking up arms against their own citizens".

It's at least made it onto the BBC front page, though less prominently than all the stories mentioned above. Between "Pope goes on tour" and "Pakistan also has protest march".

Seeing them alongside each other like that, it would be interesting to compare and contrast the US and Pakistani responses to their respective protests.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Piece of Cake

It's easy to forget the thematic differences between the classic He-Man and She-Ra series. He-Man operated from a position of privilege. Yes, his kingdom was constantly under assault by the forces of darkness, but he was still functionally a prince ruling a kingdom under his father the rightful and just king. So occasionally he had to put on his invincible muscle suit and fight this skeleton guy who was trying to take his stuff. It's still a story of someone who is effectively punching down.

She-Ra, perhaps surprisingly for what may be readily dismissed as a "girl's" show, strikes a markedly different theme. Rather than defending the top of the hill, Adora and her team are the last holdout in a world that has already been conquered. Though the effective tones of the series aren't so different, between the comic relief and the "Saturday Morning" restrictions, there's still an underlying distinction which is never so markedly shown* as in the "Secret of the Sword" movie.

In the middle of this quasi-serious tale of a struggle against oppression and hope against hopelessness, the gang take a detour to He-Man's homeland of Eternia, where She-Ra's foe Hordak recruits the aid of local hopeful Skeletor in an assault on their collective enemies. We can only assume that the conversation went something like this:

SKELETOR: Nyah! Yes, I'll help you, but on one condition! Our scheme must involve at least one change of disguise, and this enormous, hollow cake!

HORDAK: What. What cake. What ... I, Hordak, will wear no disguise.

SKELETOR: That's fine! The disguises are for us. You will be inside the cake.

HORDAK: What happened to you, man. Hiding? Trickery? You used to be cool. Where are your armies? We will march on this castle and take it by force!

SKELETOR: Look, after getting beat down by He-Man on a weekly basis for I don't know how long, you start coming at these things sideways. Trust me, we need the cake. Nyah.

So that is what they do. Skeletor and his minions fight their way through the outer defences of Randor's fortress, presumably with this giant cake in tow, wait until they get to the very last door and then disguise themselves as pastry chefs. They wheel the cake through into the dining hall and Hordak jumps out like some hideously misjudged strippergram. And this works, they successfully kidnap their target, and (we assume) waltz on out without any further resistance.

The pair of heroes just got done destroying a laser ray that is fuelled by the tears of the innocent, and now they're dealing with wacky hijinks and oversized confectionery.

I just think it's interesting that the show with the talking flying rainbow unicorn is somehow the darker/grittier one.

* I should note that I am not a scholar of the series, it's possible that halfway through there was an episode where Hordak started putting babies on spikes. I pretty much doubt it. Either way, I'm just making a point.